Bristol: Whit Bazemore Friday summary

Bazemore No. 1 qualifier Friday in Bristol BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 30. 2004) - Whit Bazemore took control of Bristol Dragway in the first session of Funny Car qualifying today (4.862/318.08 for No. 1) and held the reins until the final session to...

Bazemore No. 1 qualifier Friday in Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn. (April 30. 2004) - Whit Bazemore took control of Bristol Dragway in the first session of Funny Car qualifying today (4.862/318.08 for No. 1) and held the reins until the final session to take the No. 1 position tonight, with a 4.770-second elapsed time at 321.27 mph, just thousandths short of breaking the existing track record of 4.765 seconds.

The driver of the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus Funny Car, who won here in 2002 and was runner-up in 2003, demonstrated once again that he has a handle on this track, one of his favorites on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series circuit.

"The car is starting to come around," he said. "It's due to the effort that everyone's made. We changed a lot of things over the winter and we've had good performance this year thus far; we've just been really inconsistent. It's hard to do well in this sport when you're inconsistent.

"Two races ago in Las Vegas we were runner-up and then last week in Houston we smoked the tires in the first round and got beat. This weekend the key is for us to make four good runs in qualifying. And so far we're 2 and 0, so that's good. That will help us be prepared for Sunday, where hopefully we can go out and know exactly where we are with our car relative to the race track and the conditions, and hopefully we'll be able to tune the thing for four good runs on Sunday.

"The track is excellent. This is absolutely one of the very best facilities that we race on. This is our favorite track. This and Denver. I don't know if it's the race track or the mountains. The people here, the fans (have turned out). It's a home run tonight and it's great to see. Because to have a track owner make the commitment to do it right, to build a first-class facility that we all really enjoy coming to, obviously it's for the fans as well. It's growing every year and we really like to see that.

"It's very important where you qualify during the first run so you can be near the back (of the line) for the second run. It's actually critical. Our team is so good they're able to fine tune that car to the thousandths. We've had so many times over the past couple of years with this Matco Tools team where we've either been No. 1 qualifier or been second or third by one or two or three thousandths of a second and that's really how close it is.

"We're fortunate that we were at the back and Lee (Beard, crew chief) was able to fine tune it and make last minute-adjustments. And it probably was worth another two or three hundredths.

"There are so many things that go into making a good run and there are so many ways to mess up, whether it's the driver or the car. In this sport you can never take anything for granted and you just prepare the car the very best way that you can - and yourself. For me I have to do the job going down the race track. And then you just really focus on being perfect, especially at night. It's a whole different world at night. It's really difficult, actually."

Two more rounds of qualifying are scheduled for tomorrow for the O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals.

-dsr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore